Short-term planning makes life on big construction projects easier for everyone involved. By breaking down your master schedule into shorter, more manageable chunks, you gain a focused view of your project that can help keep things on track.
And whilst it’s possible to manage short-term plans with programmes like Excel, it’s just not ideal.
The scheduling process with spreadsheet software is slow and clunky. It’s impossible to know what other teams are planning, all of the information you need is in some other piece of software, and making simple changes can mean re-doing everything from scratch.
In short, it’s time to break up with Excel and start using something that’s actually been built to do the job.
Project scheduling software for construction
Scheduling software has come a long way over the past few years. There’s a large variety of tools out there that can help reduce the time you spend planning and improve communication on-site.
But the best tools have taken things a few steps further.
From clash detection and real-time data analysis to progress tracking and built-in integrations with other types of construction management tools; there have been a lot of exciting developments in construction scheduling. And it’s time you started getting the most out of it.
If you or someone on your team isn’t quite convinced yet, then here are seven reasons you need to start using ‘good’ construction scheduling software on your project.
1. Communication and Collaboration
Good construction scheduling software takes all of the pain out of communicating with your team and replaces it with easy workflows and things like in-app messaging.
These kinds of functions mean that rather than chasing people for updates, they’re prompted to send you the data you need ahead of time. And instead of discovering two teams are planning to work in the same area at once, they’re notified as soon as there is an issue.
Scheduling software also acts as a central location that everyone from site to office can interact and engage with. So site workers, engineers, planners and project managers all have the ability to access plans and share relevant information with one another; making it easier to work together and get a clear idea of what’s happening on your project.
2. Data-driven decision making
Having the ability to collect your site data in real-time and feed it directly to the relevant stakeholders makes it quick and easy to make well-informed decisions.
By removing the pain of having to collate data from different spreadsheets and sources, the process becomes much smoother, and you’re more likely to have that information on hand when you actually need it.
Not only that, but ‘good’ construction scheduling software provides you with a way of pooling the information you need into easy-to-use dashboards. Having all your information in one place allows you to cross-reference different data points and gives you a much clearer picture of what’s happening on-site.
Need to track PPC? Not a problem.
Want to take a look at labour and plant resources? Here they are.
You get the idea.
3. Construction scheduling software makes it easy for delivery teams to own their plans
One of the great benefits of short-term planning is that the delivery team can take ownership and accountability for the work they’re actually responsible for.
You can still use the master schedule to guide your planning, but the work can be broken down, and the outputs can be managed from the bottom up. Typically this approach leads to improved communication, fewer clashes, and ultimately fewer delays on the critical path.
Whilst it’s possible to apply these methods using Excel or other spreadsheet software on smaller projects with smaller teams, this quickly gets out of hand when you’re trying to communicate between 10-20 engineers.
4. Progress Tracking
Progress tracking is vital to making well-informed decisions and preventing potential delays. And scheduling software can help you track your progress by providing a real-time view of your site.
Having a clear view of what tasks have or haven’t been completed on a particular section of work - with logged reasons for delays - helps give you a better idea of what’s going on and why.
You can then collate this kind of data to calculate progress-related metrics and investigate issues further with methods like root cause analysis. This kind of information will all you to make well-informed, corrective actions and help keep your project on track.
5. Time management
We know, we know... every piece of tech and software in the world likes to talk about how it saves you time and money. But, time management is a huge problem in the construction industry.
“The construction industry is ripe for disruption. Large projects across asset classes typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget” - McKinsey.
Some of the biggest reasons for that come back to poor planning, a lack of information, or communication breakdown. When you have a tool that allows you to:
- Pool data from different sources
- Automatically prompt people for updates
- Track Progress and reasons for delay
- Keep a history of activity
- Integrate with other software
It’s inevitable that you’ll end up getting some of that lost time back.
We’ve found that when you take all of these functions into account, the average user saves 2-3 hours a week compared to planning in spreadsheets. That’s 2-3 hours that could be spent better elsewhere on-site.
We’ve also found that ‘good’ scheduling software is usually picked up quickly by team members. Meaning that you don’t lose a lot of time during the onboarding process.
One particular annoyance with building short-term plans with things like Excel is that you need to use it alongside dozens of other tools. And none of them fit together the way they should.
That means extra headaches with like passwords and logins, plus more time spent building your plans.
Good scheduling software removes that friction by integrating with the other tools and platforms you need. To use Aphex as an example:
- You are able to upload your master schedule straight from P6, Microsoft Project, or Asta Power Project. Making it easy to break things down and start planning your building your short-term schedule.
- We have in-app integration with ArcGIS so that you can use imagery and mapping of your site whilst building your plans.
- Then when it’s time to review your data, you can export everything straight into Power BI for further analysis.
Integrations take your workflow into consideration and really separate generic planning software from software that’s been purpose-built for construction planning and scheduling.
7. Accountability and transparency
Construction scheduling software can allow you to log what has or hasn’t happened, along with who has or hasn’t been involved. It also helps track material, plant, clashes and reasons for delay.
All these things together give you a very clear picture of what’s happening on-site and add a layer of accountability to each of those tasks. This information makes it easier to see where things have gone wrong so that mistakes can be avoided in the future.
That added level of accountability and transparency also makes it easier for engineers to take ownership of their work.
How to find good construction scheduling software
Whilst we’d love to use this space to tell you how amazing Aphex is, or how it’s the fastest way for construction delivery teams to plan together. We’d rather encourage you to go out and find the software that’s the best fit for your team and project.
That way, you won’t end up with software that sucks.
The best way to find software that’s fit for your team is to have the people on site that will actually be using it, trial the tools they like the idea of and make sure it does what they want before committing to a purchase.
We’ve found projects that onboard new software this way tend to be a lot happier with their choice, and the team using it gets up and running a lot faster.
If Aphex is one of the tools you’d like to consider trialing, then you can sign up for a free account here.